On page and off page optimization are two most touted words in the field of search engine optimization. Though the on-page vs off-page debate is as old as Google, it is still an area of constant debate. But the truth is both are vital to the success of an online business. Though the world of SEO has changed forever with the evolution of social media, it is very important for online businesses to understand the relevance of these two processes in order to get organic traffic from search engines.
On page and off page optimization are the first and most important steps towards your website’s search engine optimization. In simple words, on page and off page activities help your websites get found by the search engines whenever somebody searches with particular keywords or key phrases relevant to your site. Both the activities are driven towards achieving the same goal but the ways are different.
On page Optimization
On-Page SEO refers to how well your website’s content is presented to search engines. On page optimization involves ensuring whether a particular webpage is structured in a manner so that it gets found by the search engines for given keywords and key phrases. It not only helps in getting good search engine ranking but also increases overall readability of the site. The best part is that not much has changed about the on-page optimization approach. It can still be improved immediately by tweaking incorrect elements on a webpage.
There 5 key elements of a successful on page optimization.
1. Page copy
A good content copy is really the key to your success. It is an open secret that you need to produce original, unique and high quality content of relevance on a continuous basis to perform well and rank high on search engines. There are few things you need to keep in mind while creating the content copy.
Each piece of content should be created keeping the focus primarily on a single keyword or a key phrase. This word or phrase should at least be mentioned for a specific number of times in the whole content and this process is known as keyword density. Each content copy is supposed to maintain a keyword density of 3-5% as par industry standard. Keep a mix of primary and secondary keywords and key phrases in your content but optimize your content around only those keywords and phrases on which you desire to achieve top organic search rankings.
Quality over quantity
You don’t essentially need longer articles for better search engine rankings. Web pages with more content intensity and depth has started performing better on search engine ranking since the 2011 Google algorithm update.
2. Title Tags
Arguably title tag is the most important element among the “big three”, the other two being page copy and inbound links. Title tag contains the words which appear in the clickable link of the search engine result. Google has limited the page titles up to 70 characters, so it is extremely important that your title tags are keyword-relevant yet concise. For example, when looking up in Google for a query, you might have noticed the chopped off title tags in few results, that’s because the title tags for that page are too long. To optimize the title tags primary key words and secondary keywords should be mentioned in the same order and the branded keywords at the end, this is a rule to follow except for the home page.
3. Meta Data
Meta data is a well written description summarizing the content of a particular webpage. It used to be one of the most important factors affecting search engine optimization in pre-Panda era. Meta data completely lost it’s importance in influencing Search Engine rankings from September, 2009 after Google’s declaration. It was majorly devalued because of a wide practice of spam techniques. Google crawlers though look at the Meta keywords to get an idea about the topicality of the page content. Meta descriptions have to be created within a limit of 155- 160 characters which essentially should not include anything but alphanumeric characters. It can’t influence search engine rankings but do help in getting a high click through rate.
Meta description works more as an ad copy for the organic search results which influences the readers to click on a particular link. It can also intelligently accommodate the primary keywords within it, Google specially highlights them if searched key phrase contains the exact key words.
4. Heading Tags
These are the tags which define the content of your page section wise, just like traditional headings and subheadings. There should be one <h1> tag every page, which should include the most relevant key phrase or key word. This tag can be created uptill <h6>, though general practice is to use this till <h3>.
Apart from the primary key word mentioned in the <h1>, you can include the other important keyphrases in <h2> and <h3> tags to define the other sections of the content. The <h1> tag should be optimized well as search engines still give this some value.
Strategically, linking one of your website pages to other similar pages on your website provides context to the search engine and to the readers as well. Some best practices are:
- Include links in main content of each page.
- Paragraph links carry the most weight.
- Use keyword-rich anchor text in links.
- Avoid using non-descriptive anchor text (for example, read more, click here, etc).
- Link to relevant, deep pages.
- Use breadcrumb navigation on every page
- Monitor your inbound links through Google Webmaster Tools.
- Avoid multiple links to the same page from a single page.
- Less links= More authority per link.
The most common practice of showing “related links” or “tags” at the end of a page or in a sidebar is done to thematically relate one page to another.
TIP: Linking back your main landing page for a certain keyword from other web pages with similar tags will help you in improving your ranking for that specific web page.
Off-Page SEO refers to your website’s overall “authority” on the web determined by what other websites say about your site. Off-page optimization is a long-term process and takes time to improve. Simply put, off page is all about your online reputation. Off page optimization includes acquiring backlinks to your page from the authority sites in your niche. Backlinks is the currency of any off-page strategy. And, unlike on-page optimization, off-page optimization efforts are not apparently visible on the webpage itself; it does the background work for a better search result.
But, after the recent Google Panda and Penguin updates, off-page optimization scenario has drastically changed. Many effective old school practices became obsolete and negatively affected many big websites with high page ranks.Off page optimization effort can be grossly divided in two parts:
1. Acquiring Backlinks
Acquiring backlinks to your pages from higher authority sites is now more important than ever. Search engines treat link popularity as one of the key factors for a better search engine ranking. Though, link popularity is not the top ranking factor anymore, as it can easily be manipulated. Now a days, search engines focus more on the quality of your content and the level of engagement on the site, over the number of links pointing towards your site. So, the success factor is not building a long list of inbound links but building a trail of quality links for your site. Creating quality content that informs and educates your target audience is more important than ever.
TIP: Getting a number of links from multiple domains relevant in your industry is the key. Buying backlinks from non-related domains won’t earn you goodwill in search engine results and can even penalize you.
2. Leveraging social interaction with your site
Use of social metrics or social engagement as a ranking factor is an increasing trend. Besides backlinks, Google now gives prominence to social signals around your content. Whether it’s the number of people who tweet, ‘Like’, social bookmark, or “vote” via Google +1 for your content, your site’s social footprints has a direct relation with your rankings. SEO has now evolved into social.
3. Promote your content via social channels
Make sure to promote your content through multiple social media channels to obtain some social media traction. You can use multiple platforms to engage your audience, keeping the focus on the ones creating maximum buzz for you. There are various platforms at your exposure:
Facebook is the social platform with maximum number of active users at this moment. You can share your content there but don’t use a promotional tone, rather keep it light as people come to Facebook mostly with an intention of socializing in a casual mood. Specially interesting and light topics with pictures get more attention in the form of Likes and Share on Facebook.
Twitter and LinkedIn
You can distribute your content on both these platforms. You can share your content in the form of an article, video, image or even in the form of a simple update. You can join relevant LinkedIn groups and share you articles there too. If you have content of great quality you’ll surely be able to create buzz around it.
It has become very important to share any content you create on Google+, as it is from the search engine provider itself. Recently, there is a lot of noise that Google+ has a indirect correlation with your website’s ranking in the search engine. Google also have introduced a new feature called Google Authorship. It shows the picture and name of an author with his articles in Google search results. This has come across as a major factor to counter the duplicate content by giving weightage to the authors and the content they have created. An article from a popular author can get extra points for reliability, which can help in a better search engine ranking in future.
Pinterest is the latest social media sensation. The image sharing website allows you to share pictures from your post to appeal to your target audience. If you have an e-commerce site, Pinterest can help you drive your sales.
This is a question & answer platform where a lot of people come searching for the solution to different problems and queries. You can post your content or your opinion in any of the relevant discussion thread and readers can up vote or down vote it. This is in fact the future of commenting. The platform can help you establish yourself as a subject matter expert in your field.
You can create informational videos on topics like make-up tips or different marketing strategies to share them on free video hosting sites like Vimeo, YouTube etc. generating billions of unique viewers every month.
4. Add social book markings
Social bookmarking is one of those old yet useful off-page SEO techniques being used from the pre-Panda and Penguin age. There are many sites like Tumbler, Stumbleupon, Reddit, Delicious, Digg being the most prominent ones, where people come in searching for different content topics. You can add a social bookmarking panel to your website and share all the content you produce. Not just that, also try to participate in the discussion and regularly mark you presence with your comment and content.
5. Guest Blogging
Another way of acquiring strong back links in post Panda era is guest blogging. You have to create relevant and high quality content and submit to the blogs with higher page ranks. If your article contains real good stuffs it will get published and to do that you have to observe the content types and categories your target blogs are covering, it’s even great if there are some common or related categories both of you cater to. But remember, you should not do it just for the sake of getting back links and also submitting articles to substandard blog sites is not going to fetch you desired benefit.
For a long term and successful search engine optimization strategy, you need to work on your site structure as well as on building your online reputation by getting backlinks and creating community around your content. And, ultimately, it boils down to creating interesting and informative content people would like to read and share. Content is still the King.
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